I am not a football fan. I suppose if I had to, I could sit through a game. That is something I couldn't say for the game of baseball. Or golf. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, I exhibit a marginal interest when my alma mater, the University of Texas, has their annual grudge match with the little school down in College Station. If I think to do so, I will turn on the television during that game, and if I walk through that room, I may pause momentarily and glance at the score. Some years I know who is playing in the Superbowl. Most years I don't. My animosity is less directed at the game itself as it is at our football and sports-obsessed culture.
Last Superbowl, our priest and his family hosted a get-together over at their house. All are Pittsburgh natives, and while they are technically American citizens, I suppose you could say that their first allegiance lies with the Steeler Nation. So for once, I sat down and watched a Superbowl game. Really, in the company of good friends and food and drink...it wasn't so bad. Anyway, that is where I became acquainted with this guy--Troy Polamalu. He is, perhaps, the best-known Orthodox Christian among the American general public. I do not know if you could exactly say he is the public face of Orthodoxy in America, but I do know we could do far worse. Somehow Polamalu kind of fits--no saccharine-sweet-bible-study-group poster boy he.
The last thing I would wish on any Orthodox Christian (or anyone else for that matter) is fame or renown. That said, Polamalu seems to be taking it all in stride. I am linking an interview, here, that is certainly worth a read. The article touches only tangentially on football. Rather, Polamalu much prefers to talk about the Faith, his family (wife Theodora and son, Paisios) and monks and monasteries.
As a parent, I don't want to talk out of both sides of my mouth; I don't want to act a certain way and be another way. Not everybody has a material struggle, but everyone has a spiritual struggle. So with my son, it's important for him to first understand the spiritual struggle and, as a result of that, know how to [deal with] the physical struggles that he has in his life - whether it's dealing with not enough or too much of something.
I think talking is overrated. Anybody in the world can talk about doing anything. The hardest thing is to do it. It's important for my son to understand, for example, why we pray, why we go to church. It's important for him to grow up in an atmosphere of watching us do it, to understand that nothing is given to you in life. Everything must be worked at in order to be obtained - whether it's something material or it's salvation.
Without a question, my greatest wish would be for him to understand the spiritual struggle and to be a pious Orthodox Christian. That's what I want for myself, as well. Sometimes parents want their children to be what they never were. And that's one thing that I am gracious for Paisios to have: that he's able to grow up in the Orthodox church around monastics and priests that I was never able to experience as a kid - to grasp that, not take it for granted and really culture that.
...you cannot have an experience of God without humility.